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Letter to Editor Asheville Citizen-Times from Linda Rebuck.
To the Editor:
I have watched with horror the recent bullying and immature actions of the majority of the Buncombe County School Board toward one member, Lisa Baldwin of the Reynolds District. My understanding is that the School Board had a first reading on a “policy” which attempts to shut up or even totally eliminate the minority opinion through intimidation (the “policy” actually states that the Board can “censure” or ask a fellow member to resign for very subjective reasons). In other words, if five of the Board members had personal disdain for or disagreement with another member, they could officially scold that member publicly. Why not just install a dunking booth? That way every time a member says something the majority does not like, they could just duck him/her immediately? This is ridiculous, folks. While I can appreciate the need to move forward on issues that come before the Board in a timely manner, as citizens of this country we have an inalienable right to free speech and an elected official has an additional moral duty to the people they represent to speak up if he/she sees a potential problem. Sadly this does not happen often enough on any public board as most just sit on their hands nodding their heads in unison. I cannot comprehend of any reason that the majority would think they had the right to totally stifle the voice of one member let alone attempt to remove him/her from an elected office. Doing so would not only inhibit his/her speech, it would leave the district in the Reynolds Community without representation elected by the people.
This is, in my view, a blatant abuse of power and a very poor example to set for our children. Are board members never to question the recommendations or decisions of the superintendent? Is there never a better way to accomplish a goal other than what is spoon fed to them by the administration? If so, why have Boards of Education at all? I have listened to a number of Ms. Baldwin’s concerns and have yet to hear anything that would warrant this kind of childish reaction. Perhaps all the time she has spent researching various issues is intimidating to the other members who do not want to put out as much time and effort? It is my view that this so called “policy” is just petty, personal politics and will not serve the interests of children or the community at large. This proposed “policy” appears blatantly self-serving and is beneath the dignity of the office.
It is the exclusive right of “we the people” to decide whether or not an elected official (unless the member in question breaks an actual law) is out of line with principles of our community and if so to replace him/her at the ballot box. I would encourage everyone to watch the videos of the various Buncombe County School Board meetings which are available online and make your own decision about who is best serving the children, the Reynolds community and Buncombe County.